Monthly Archives: April 2009

Sons of God by Rebecca Ellen Kurtz, a Review

Sons of God by Rebecca Ellen Kurtz, a Review

Self-published by Maximilian Press Publishers, 2007, 209 pages.

Genre: Christian horror.  Think of Twilight, the Mummy movies or Indiana Jones, full of paranormal activity. But this one has a Biblical worldview. Also, it’s not for kids.

This novel doesn’t really fit with others I have reviewed.  It’s not fantasy or science fiction.  In fact, it’s at heart a romance. It describes plenty of violence, so much that I am glad it’s not a movie.

It does fit in with some others I have reviewed in that it is self-published and could use some editing. Kurtz is an amateur archeologist, not a professional writer. Occasionally she “tells” rather than “shows” action–mostly in these gory situations where I didn’t want to hear the details anyway. She also jumps around with her point of view from one character to another in an unsettling way, something a good editor would have changed. Dialogue is occasionally clunky and often too modern.

However, given the fact that the publishing industry pretty much shuts out unknown authors in this genre, I am often willing to check out self-published novels and look past the rough edges.

What I found was a wild tale of the paranormal: demons and immortal half-angels (some with vampire characteristics) sharing the earth with the rest of us, who are mostly unaware of them.

The protagonist of the book, Rachaev, is an immortal Nephilim (a halfbreed race, offspring of fallen angels and humans who mated at the dawn of time). Although her parents had chosen the evil path, she has chosen to follow Elohim (God).  She is in a spiritually dry spell, lasting 2,500 years. At first she blames God, but she eventually figures out isn’t God’s fault.

There’s a love interest for Rachaev; after all this time she finally has found a man who interests her. However, it is forbidden for her to wed a human.  How is this resolved? And how is she able to finally do what Elohim has commanded her to do (kill her evil, bloodthirsty mother, Ishtar)?

This book is for adults, because of the violence and the sexual tension (no sex scenes — the emphasis for Raechev is purity).  If it were a movie, it would probably be rated somewhere between PG-13 and R.

The book is not only a story. It also contains translations of ancient manuscripts including the Bible, interpreting them to show that Nephilim, half-angel, half-human, are talked about in a variety of texts from around the world.  I am not sure what to make of this. Is she arguing that Nephilim really exist? If so, this argument is muddying the waters–what she is selling is a tale, not a history.

It’s a gripping story, hard to put down once you get into it. The best thing about it is its rock-solid affirmation of the existence of God and his control of all things, and of his mercy–in providing eventual happiness for Raechev despite her long disobedience.–Phyllis Wheeler

Some Thoughts on Blaggard’s Moon

This month’s Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour involves a number of bloggers writing about the novel Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka. Here’s what some of them are saying:

Chawna Schroeder is concerned that the story doesn’t have a proper hero, one that the reader can bond with. Delaney is the story teller, and is off center stage for most of the book. Damrick functions as the hero, performing daring deeds, but he’s got clay feet–we can see his motivations of “self-preservation, anger, mercilessness, and vengeance-type attitudes.”  Then Jenta, the heroine, is “driven by the story rather than driving it.”

(In short, it’s a story about sinners. But I agree, we readers don’t get that close to Damrick.)

On this topic, Rachel Starr Thompson says she thinks the distance gives Damrick and Jenta a mythic quality.

Chawna identifies two themes:
* reaping what you sow, and
* learning to live so as to die without regrets.  (I would reword this as learning to change for the better.)
The resulting tale, balancing these two, is a dark one, she finds.  (I agree that this book has many dark moments. )

Rachel Starr Thompson comments on the sadness aspect too. She finds it “a lament for a world gone wrong, for a world where good people can suffer while evil men prosper. It’s the lament of Ecclesiastes and Job and some of the Psalms, and like them it asks us to find hope in the goodness of God while never asking us to pretend that hope negates the sadness.”  (Well said, I say.)

Personally, I like a book whose characters learn to lean on Jesus, so to speak. I don’t see that happening in this book overtly.  But as they shift, learning to make right choices no matter what the consequence, a Christian can identify the work of the Holy Spirit.

Others have mentioned that they find this book to be in some other genre besides fantasy. It’s a sea tale set in another land. There’s no magic.  It has a very historical air to it, with myriad details.

So, read this book!  Tell me what you think!

Check out the other CSFF blog tour participants :
Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespack
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka, a Review

blaggards-moon-250

Blaggard’s Moon

A Prequel to the Trophy Chase Trilogy
by George Bryan Polivka
Published by Harvest House Publishers, 2009, 373 pages.

Worldview: Moral universe, a God who changes people when they pray.

This book consists of two yarns that converge at the end of the book. One is the tale of a pirate, Smith Delaney, who is sentenced by some primitive jungle-dwellers to die a gruesome death. He meditates on his life in the meantime.

The other tale is about Damrick Fellows, told previously by a pirate comrade of Delaney’s. Delaney remembers Damrick’s tale, in his comrade’s words, as Delaney sits on a post in the middle of a pond full of piranhas and gruesome flesh-eating sea monkeys, waiting for sunset and the end of his life.

Both tales take place in a fantasy world called Nearing Vast, where the law-abiding citizens are in the grip of ruthless pirates.  The shipping companies pay off the pirates, and the pirates pay off the Navy, which doesn’t enforce the law.

Into this situation comes Damrick Fellows, a former seaman who dares to challenge the pirates.  Damrick’s tale tells his story and that of Jenta, the woman Damrick loves.

The stories intersect, causing the incident that hands Delaney his death sentence. While sitting on the post in the pond, Delaney ponders and rejects his bad deeds and doesn’t regret the good deed that landed him on the post: saving the life of a tiny girl, daughter of Damrick and Jenta.

The book contains some very memorable and finely drawn characters: not only Damrick and Jenta, but the king of the pirates, Conch Imbry.  Their interactions form a tale of heroic deeds, not the least of which is Delaney’s decision to save the girl.

The book is lyrically written, bringing a song to my heart as I read parts of it. However, there is also plenty of violence in the book, briefly described.  While not for younger children, it’s appropriate for teens–there are no sex scenes in it. Personally I am not fond of reading about violence though.

The Christian faith is evident–there are priests and crosses.  At least one character, a drunk, begins to pray and is changed. Delaney’s heart too changes as he sits on the post and reviews his life.  My heart yearns for more obvious response from God in the tale, though.

Characters in this book are often faced with apparently morally ambiguous situations and must make a decision. Delaney makes wrong choices at first, and so do some of the other characters, including Damrick, whose motivations in attacking pirates originally seem questionable. But many of the wrong-choosers eventually realize the error of their ways and change.

This book is really about the complexities of the human heart, and how it is capable of changing for the better. It has a nice solid moral groundwork, memorable characters, and a literary flair.  For lovers of action, this is a great book.

Check out what others on the CSFF blog tour are writing on this topic:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespack
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

Blaggard’s Moon: Review Coming Up

This month’s Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy (CSFF) Blog Tour involves a number of bloggers writing about the novel Blaggard’s Moon by George Bryan Polivka.  Our aim is to let people know that Christian science fiction and fantasy make great reading, and can convey great truths.

Unfortunately, the market for new writers in this genre has been soft, shall we say. But Tolkien and C.S. Lewis continue to get a lot of attention, so we know there’s interest! So let me tell you about the work of a very talented writer.

George Bryan Polivka’s pirate novel Blaggard’s Moon is actually a prequel to the Trophy Chase Trilogy. All these take place in the land (or waters) of Nearing Vast. The first of these three books is The Legend of the Firefish (which our local library has bought at my request).  The third one is The Battle for Vast Dominion, which has garnered a Christy Award nomination.

So this brings us to Blaggard’s Moon. For those who like me haven’t read The Trophy Chase Trilogy yet, this is apparently a great place to start in learning about Nearing Vast.

Tomorrow I’ll give you my review of Blaggard’s Moon.

Today I’ll talk about Polivka’s Web site, www.NearingVast.com.

The home page says,
“Welcome, weary traveler, to the Kingdom of Nearing Vast! ”
I like the design a lot. It’s clearly made by someone who knows what he or
she is doing.

On the home page, one of the trilogy’s characters, Cap Hillis, speaks to the reader as if the reader is a tourist and provides a list of entities to beware of, including pirates and firefish.  This is pretty cool. It gives you a good idea of the general lawlessness of the place, and also the idea that in this world, nightmarish monsters can be real.  In addition, it gives you a taste of the colorful characters that fill Polivka’s books.

If we click on “Cap’s Pub,” we come over to a blog where most of the entries are in the voice of Cap, but a few are in the author’s voice. Unfortunately the blog entries ended last September. I guess Polivka got busy with other stuff, like writing and promoting Blaggard’s Moon.

“Rumors” takes us to a set of quotes from happy reviewers of his books.

“Captain’s Log” takes us to a record of book signings, with pictures.

The “Vast Encyclopedia” takes us to a compendium of lore from Nearing Vast, concerning fishing, sailing, pirates, prophecies, and so on.  So, what do YOU think?

Here are the other CSFF blog tour participants this month:
Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Melissa Carswell
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Alex Field
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Kait
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Magma
Margaret
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Nissa
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespack
Fred Warren
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson

I’m reading!

You haven’t heard from me because I’m pretty busy, and I do have several books to read. I’m very happy to have these in the hopper. Right now I’m reading Blaggard’s Moon, a fantasy pirate story. Or group of stories actually. Stay tuned!